There are many more than four types of spinal surgery, but these the four discussed in this post are some of the most common. Although the prospect of having surgery to correct a spinal issue may make you feel nervous, understanding why these procedures are performed may help.
Our team at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates in Independence, Ohio, specializes in orthopedic care of the entire body, including your spine. When you consider the structure and function of the spine in the human body, it’s amazing. However, when there’s a problem, it can disrupt your life in painful ways.
If you need spinal surgery, working with a team of highly qualified experts is important. We understand that you may feel hesitant when it comes to surgical procedures on your spine and hope that this blog post can ease some of your worry, or help you understand why spinal surgery is sometimes the best solution.
1. Spinal fusion
Spinal fusion is the most common spinal surgery, partly because it’s often performed at the same time as other surgical interventions.
Your spine is made up of vertebrae, with small discs providing cushioning between each one. In practical terms, your spine is a long series of joints, which is one reason you can twist, bend, and have such miraculous mobility.
Imagine if your spine was simply a long, straight bone. Your neck wouldn’t move as it does now, and you couldn’t bend to the side, or even slouch.
All of those joints mean that there are plenty of chances for things to go wrong. One way surgeons can correct a problem between two spinal joints is to fuse them together. Connecting two vertebrae is unlikely to impact your mobility, but it could prevent them from rubbing against each other and causing pain.
If you have lumbar spinal stenosis, it means the passageway in the middle of your spine, where the bundle of nerves that makes up your spinal cord runs, has become narrow in your lower back. The narrowing could be due to bone spurs, inflammation, or other problems.
If the passage presses against your spinal cord, the result could be pain, numbness, a tingling sensation, or weakness. One way of correcting the problem is to widen the passageway.
A skilled surgeon may remove bone spurs, ligaments, or parts of the bone in your spine in order to give your nerves more space. Depending on exactly what the issue is and what’s removed, laminectomy can weaken your spine. If that’s the case, your surgeon may recommend a spinal fusion in order to lend strength to that section of your spine.
A foraminotomy is similar to a laminectomy in that it’s done to relieve pressure on a compressed nerve. One difference is where the surgeon removes bone. For a foraminotomy, bone is removed where your nerves exit your spine. When there’s less pressure on the nerves, you may feel less pain.
A foraminotomy can also weaken your spine, and spinal fusion could be the best way to keep it stable.
Those discs between your vertebrae are crucial for smooth movement, but they can be problematic. Each disc is filled with a jelly-like substance, and sometimes a disc can bulge and not provide the cushioning you need, or it can even rupture.
When you have a bulging or ruptured disc, you have pain. The bulge can press on nerves, and if the disc ruptures, your vertebrae rub against each other.
A discectomy is a procedure to remove the disc. This procedure can usually be done through a minimally invasive technique called a microdiscectomy. In either case, your surgeon removes only as much of the damaged disc as necessary.
If you have questions about spinal surgery, schedule an appointment at Louis Keppler & Associates. We’re happy to talk about your situation and answer your questions.